Bivalence: Meaning theory vs metaphysics

Theoria 64 (2-3):157-186 (1998)
This paper is an attack on the Dummett-Prawitz view that the principle of bivalence has a crucial double significance, metaphysical and meaning theoretical. On the one hand it is said that holding bivalence valid is what characterizes a realistic view, i.e. a view in metaphysics, and on the other hand it is said that there are meaning theoretical arguments against its acceptability. I argue that these two aspects are incompatible. If the failure of validity of bivalence depends on properties of linguistic meaning, then there are no metaphysical consequences to be drawn. The case for this view is straightforward as long as we are discussing a language different from our own. But it seems that the distinction between failure because of meaning and failure because of reality cannot be applied to our own language, simply because our own language is just what we use to represent reality. I argue that this impression is illusory. In order to draw a conclusion about reality, meaning must be connected with truth in a non-trivial way, and precisely this cannot be done in the language for which the meaning theory itself is correct.
Keywords Realism-essay
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DOI 10.1111/j.1755-2567.1998.tb00186.x
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Michael Dummett (1982). Realism. Synthese 52 (1):145--165.
A. Heyting (1956). Intuitionism. Amsterdam, North-Holland Pub. Co..

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